Veteran journalist to try for Knesset with Jewish Home
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Veteran journalist to try for Knesset with Jewish Home

Editor Yinon Magal, slammed this summer for putting patriotism before journalism, says he’s ‘not embarrassed to love the land’

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Journalist Yinon Magal (L) shakes hands with Jewish Home Party leader Naftali Bennett (R) after declaring his intention to join the party, December 27, 2014. (screen capture: YouTube/Naftali Bennett)
Journalist Yinon Magal (L) shakes hands with Jewish Home Party leader Naftali Bennett (R) after declaring his intention to join the party, December 27, 2014. (screen capture: YouTube/Naftali Bennett)

Veteran Israeli journalist Yanon Magal formally announced on Sunday he will sign up with the Jewish Home party, after declaring his intention to join the national religious parliamentary faction in a short video clip posted online the day before.

Magal, the editor of the Hebrew-language news website Walla, said patriotism led him to join the nationalist Jewish Home party, becoming the latest media figure to try his hand in Israeli politics.

In the tongue-in-cheek clip, another media figure, Hanoch Daum appears to be introducing party leader Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who is sitting next to him, listing his merits as a former commando and generally all-round, handsome, good guy.

After Bennett nods and smiles in modest acceptance of the praise, the camera pans to show that it is Magal who was the object of Daum’s plaudits.

“I am an Israeli, and I am not embarrassed that I love this land and am moved by the national anthem,” Magal says in the clip.

Magal, 45, served in the IDF’s elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit, and had been in the past a reporter for Army Radio and Channel 10 and a news anchor on Channel 1.

During the summer war with Gaza, Magal came under fire for unabashedly putting his patriotism over his journalistic objectivity.

Bennett is expected to give Magal, who does not wear the traditional skullcap of religious male Jews but does observe Shabbat, one of the top spots on the party’s Knesset slate.

“Yinon will provide a power to the Jewish Home and represents many new voters who are joining us and accept the values of religious Zionism — and aren’t apologizing for it,” Bennett said of his newest party member.

The Jewish Home party primaries are scheduled for January 14 and Bennett has authority to reserve three of the first 15 places for his personal picks.

On Saturday, Bennett announced that former Peace Now activist and author Anat Roth was leaving the leftist Labor party to join the Jewish Home instead.

Former Peace Now activist and author Anat Roth. (screen capture: YouTube/Begin Center)
Former Peace Now activist and author Anat Roth. (screen capture: YouTube/Begin Center)

Magal follows a long list of other journalists who have traded their pens for politics.

Earlier this month, sportscaster and Arab affairs commentator Zuhair Bahlul announced he would run for a Knesset seat with the Labor Party.

Yest Atid party leader Yair Lapid was a news anchor before joining the Knesset in 2013, and at the same MK Merav Michaeli left a gig as a writer at daily Haaretz to join the Labor Party, then led by former journalist Shelley Yachimovich.

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